Local driver Max Baldon took the honours in the first MINI CHALLENGE – JCW qualifying session of the year. His time of 1min 30.347 put him in front by a hundredth of a second. The Cheshire racer will be hoping for a strong result in the Excelr8; F56 JCW.
Baldon had been quick all session, rarely dropping out of the top five as the benchmark continued to lowered. He didn’t move to the front though until the closing laps remaining on top when the second red flag came out.
All eyes though were on BTCC driver Jeff Smith, competing in the Eurotech Racing machine. His initial effort had been on pace, going top after the first red flag.
His car ran into handling issues after picking up damage inside the first three minutes, but returned to the track after his teammate Jo Polley crashed stopping the session briefly. Problems though soon returned to Smith though, appearing to snap his axle as he slowly hobbled back to the pits.
With Smith out of the equation, Mark Wakefield took his turn at the top, setting the benchmark for the middle of the session.
It soon became a two-horse race with the Exelr8 drivers of Bladon and Wakefield dominating the times. As the flag dropped Bladon edged out the Northwich racer by 0.011 seconds, as Reece Barr completed an Excelr8 domination.
Brett Smith will line up fourth, while Charlie Butler-Henderson may be slightly disappointed with only a fifth place, despite being under half a second away from pole.
Completing the top eight will be Rob Smith, James Turkington and the Power Maxed Racing driver of Freddie Lee, who caused the second red flag after he smashed into the barrier, delaying future proceedings.